Outdoors

Deal allows Puget Sound salmon fishing to proceed

A deal has been reached that will allow the state to open fishing in Puget Sound and waters that feed into it, but will keep recreational fishing in the Puyallup River closed.
A deal has been reached that will allow the state to open fishing in Puget Sound and waters that feed into it, but will keep recreational fishing in the Puyallup River closed. Staff file, 2011

State and tribal officials Thursday afternoon announced an agreement that will allow recreational and nontribal commercial fishing in Puget Sound.

The news is not all good, especially for recreational anglers in the South Sound.

The Puyallup River, for instance, will remain closed to recreational fishing, while the Nisqually River will be closed in September and October.

The closures are part of efforts to reduce impacts on coho runs that are forecast to be at historic lows.

Ron Warren, who led the negotiations for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said it would be two to three weeks before fisheries could reopen. He said the department has been talking with National Marine Fisheries Service, but the federal agency must still give its approval to the agreement.

Because the state did not have a deal with the tribes, nor approval of its own permit, Washington could not open its fisheries after the previous permit expired April 30.

Some tribes, under a separate agreement, had already received approval from the feds to conduct fisheries in the Sound.

The agreement comes about a month later than normal. Fishing season negotiations typically wrap up during April meetings held by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. Without an agreement, the state could not open recreational and nontribal commercial fisheries in the Sound and the waters that feed into it.

Here are some of the details on upcoming fishing seasons, according to a release from the department:

▪ There will be no coho fisheries in marine areas of Puget Sound, except for Hood Canal, where sufficient coho are forecast to return.

▪ The Puyallup River will be closed to recreational salmon fishing this year. The Carbon River will open for 15 days, during which recreational anglers may keep up to two hatchery chinook. Warren said the state and tribes agreed to reduce fisheries in the river.

▪ Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) will be closed in September and October. The area also will be closed to fishing for blackmouth (winter hatchery chinook) November through January. The area typically is closed to salmon fishing in January.

▪ Piers typically open year-round will be closed to salmon fishing during September and October, except for the piers within Sinclair Inlet, which remain open year-round. When piers are open, anglers may keep one chinook but must release all coho, except at Sinclair Inlet piers, where anglers may keep hatchery coho.

▪ The state is closing some rivers and marine areas to all salmon fishing during September and October, the peak months for coho salmon to return to Puget Sound. Among the waters to be closed are the Nisqually River and Lake Washington.

▪ Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) will be open to coho fishing north of Ayock Point starting Aug. 16 and south of the point starting July 1.

▪ Unrelated to low salmon returns, the lower mainstem of the Skokomish River will be closed to nontribal fishing this year. The Skokomish Tribe claims the river is part of the Skokomish Reservation and public access is prohibited. The state is working to evaluate that claim. The closed area includes the section of river from the Tacoma Public Utilities power lines, near the mouth of the river, upstream to the Bonneville Power Administration power lines west of U.S. Highway 101.

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